Blockland at the City Club

On Tuesday, January 29th, we went to the City Club for a program titled “Building Blockland: What’s Next?” which explored the potential for blockchain technology to help transform the Northeast Ohio region into a extraordinary technological  hub comparable to what we already have established in terms of outstanding medical facilities.

After we arrived, we conversed with Mr. Bob Mika about how far we have advanced, technology-wise, in a relatively short time span. Mr. Mika remembered that in the late 1970’s it took six minutes to send a short fax; now it takes more time to turn on a computer (not too long) than it does to deliver an email.

The program’s format was that of a panel discussion in which our friend, Mr. Rick Jackson, Senior Host/Producer at Ideastream was the moderator and the panelists were:

  • Dr. Jessica Berg,  J.D., MPH, Dean, School of Law at CWRU
  • Mr. Kevin K. Johnson, Managing Partner, NexGen Interactive, LLC
  • Mr. Charles Stack, CEO and Co-Founder of, Flashstarts
  • Dr. Monique Umphrey, D.M., VP of Workforce Innovation and Dean of IT, IT Center of Excellence at Cuyahoga Community College

The forum was covered by Crain’s Cleveland, which defined blockchain as “a decentralized digital technology that, its developers and proponents claim, cannot be edited or deleted by anyone but its owner, but that can be available to a large group of people or organizations. It was developed originally as the accounting system for the virtual currency Bitcoin, but its advocates see opportunities for it in areas such as government services, health care, manufacturing and real estate.”

As we read in the City Club notes, “last summer Bernie Moreno began publicly sharing his vision to make Cleveland a leader in blockchain, a disruptive technology that has the potential to impact banking, real estate, manufacturing, and countless other industries. Progress has been swift. In August, Blockland announced a partnership between JumpStart, Inc. and Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI), giving small business and nonprofits access to BRI’s data and December, the Cleveland Blockchain Conference debuted, drawing more than 1,500 people..”

The issue addressed by the panel on this day was whether or not Blockland will be good for Cleveland/Northeast Ohio as a whole. Accordingly, those who are enthusiastic about the Blockland project believe that it will bring all sorts of tech talent into the Northeast Ohio region and the ensuing economic development would be all-encompassing while others believe that the success of the endeavor will not include those from the more vulnerable areas of Cleveland.

Along these lines, the basic viewpoint expressed by the panelists was that there are opportunities for people of all interests to get involved in the formation of Blockland and that, in terms of community outreach, all points-of-view would be welcomed and all problems brought forward would be addressed; in short it was all about motivating the citizens of Cleveland to become involved.

To be sure, during the Q and A, we asked a question regarding the potential of Blockland to attract international talent to Cleveland and everyone seemed to agree that indeed it would but, moreover, there was room for all players both from Cleveland and from all over the world.